The Power of Impossible Ideas
The following post is written by one of our founders, Carlos Pelaez.
The idea for Blueprint Earth came to us while we were living in Australia and having an “idea session” where we apply imagination in a collaborative, conversational style. What is a big problem that the earth is facing? What is something that is really, really big that if solved could alter humankind’s course? Can we terraform planets?
We had lots of ideas, but the one that we came to focus on is this: We still understand so little about how all the different aspects of an environment come together to make it work. But what if we did understand the world around us? What could become possible if we had a blueprint of all the environments on the planet?
Together, my wife Jess Peláez and I co-founded Blueprint Earth, a scientific research organization based around that big idea. We are going to catalog earth’s environments in enough detail that we can create a blueprint for each environment, and then put our knowledge to the ultimate test: attempting to recreate each environment in a controlled setting. Step one: Mission Mojave -- creating a blueprint for one square kilometer of the Mojave Desert.
It may seem crazy to attempt such a project. The scope of the work is enormous, and we need so many different types of expertise to make it happen. Often people say to me and others on the Blueprint Earth team, “But no one has ever done this before. No one even knows how to do it. Aren’t you worried that you’ll fail?”
My answer is this: I believe that getting others excited about hugely ambitious ideas is necessary for us to progress in science and help preserve our planet. I believe this because I know that the history of science has many stories of projects that began as impossibly ambitious ideas, audacious goals that many thought we’d never accomplish.
We started Blueprint Earth because we wanted to do cool science, have a global impact, and change how scientists collaborate. We set the overarching goals and then began to find scientists, volunteers, enthusiasts, and donors who wanted to help us tackle this big-picture question. And Mission Mojave has already begun--we started collecting data last year, and we’re currently getting ready for our next field season in just a few short months.
Our idea is big, and maybe a little crazy. But this idea has already brought together many brilliant people who are deeply motivated to do world-changing science, and we’re still just getting started. If that makes us crazy, then maybe crazy is exactly what science needs.